February is most commonly known as the month of flowers, chocolates, and little heart-shaped candies branded with sweet sentiments. However, in the health and wellness world, February is also known as Heart Month. In the U.S., heart disease is the #1 leading cause of death among adults and by 2035 it is estimated that 45 percent of the adult population will have some form of cardiovascular disease (AHA, 2019).
We often think about heart attacks and strokes only occurring in older generations. Unfortunately, there are more incidences of high blood pressure and obesity being diagnosed today in individuals between the ages of 35-64, increasing their risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
The good news is that the biggest risk factors for heart attack and stroke (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and smoking) are controllable with some effort on our part.
Know Your Numbers!
- Blood Pressure - < 130/80
- Total cholesterol - < 200 mg/dL
- LDL (bad cholesterol) - < 100 mg/dL
- HDL (good cholesterol) - > 60 mg/dL
- Blood sugar – HbA1c should be < 6%
- Smoking is the #1 preventable cause of death and disease in the United States
- Free resources are available to help you quit at www.okhelpline.com
- 30 minutes of purposeful movement every day (doesn’t have to be the gym)
- Take the stairs once a day
- Park in the back of the lot and walk the extra steps to the door
- Purposeful movement can help reduce cholesterol and blood sugar
- Weight loss (as little as 10 pounds) can reduce your blood pressure
- No trans fat
- More fruits and vegetables
- No added sugar
- No added salt
Be proactive! Don’t let heart disease sneak up on you. Lifestyle changes do not have to be drastic. Making small changes regularly can help your numbers improve and let February be all about roses and truffles.